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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Trains : Cargo Railway

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 4559 - Cargo Railway

Rating: 3 Stars
Pros: Very cool futuristic design. Look at it more as appearing on a moon base somewhere, and the design is easier to swallow (just chew thirty-five times first). Tremendous amount of bricks.
Cons: It doesn't fit in too well with a standard town layout. How does my train conductor get out of his locomotive for potty breaks?
Contents: 835 pieces including 7 mini-figs
Price: $129.99 (Discontinued)
Reviewed: 30-Apr-1997
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

4559 Blacktron forces are among us! Subtly sneaking into the transportation industry, a new style of cargo train has begun appearing in train yards and stations all around the world. Strange bubble-like compartment cars are moving in and out of rural areas at an alarming rate, moving an unknown restricted access cargo. In other mysterious news, population numbers are shrinking at an amazing rate. Entire neighborhoods are found seemingly devoid of citizens who have left homes and belongings behind while authorities are refusing any knowledge of a conspiracy.

I don't know if I should review this set as a regular Town set or for Space! With the yellow and black colors that fit right in with the space sub-theme Blacktron (except for windows here are light blue instead of yellow), and a 21st century design, this train looks like it would indeed be more at home on a moonbase station rather than in a contemporary city. I originally bought the set because I had never collected from this theme and in mid-1996, all of the good cargo trains were unavailable but I was dying to try out a choo-choo model. After looking at all of the pieces, seeing a steam train locomotive among alternate pictures, and considering this set DOES come with its own speed regulator, I've decided this is not a bad set to start out with.
The Cargo Railway's principal components are the main engine car, two cargo cars and a wide-body truck that helps to unload cargo from the train. Starting with the locomotive, the design is a wide streamlined cab with a 2x2 round post at the rear that the first cargo car rotates/hitches on. The cab of the locomotive is entirely enclosed (once your conductor is inside, he's in for good) and personally I would have liked doors or even opening windows to reach in and get my driver out when I need to, but it's not going to happen with the main model design. I do however like the way the contours of the locomotive are smooth and not bulky.
Each cargo car is essentially an identical design (34-studs long). The body of each car is split-level with two 8-stud long landings on each side of an 18-stud center platform. The landings/cubbies on each side function as enclosures for container box constructions (with four cubbies in all, each container box has its own storage function for fuel, money, cargo and mail). These containers slide into their nook at each end of the car to lock securely in place while the train is in transit. The center platform of each carrier car holds two cargo pods. Each pod measures 8-studs long and stands approximately four bricks high performing a specific function as a diner or sleeper car (two of each).
Cargo pods load and unload from the train via a special loading truck (wider than most town cars at 6-studs wide) that looks kind of like a semi-truck cab with a small bed on back. This truck does have doors on the side and a fliptop roof for getting the driver easily in and out. Pictures of the set indicate that the truck loads and unloads these pods from the train (although no winch or loading device is present). This whole loading and unloading procedure is probably what has people scratching their heads in wonder or disgust; it poses the following question: What are passengers doing while the truck is loading them on and off the train? In this aspect the design is flawed and the train would have made a much better freight train. But for the style of the cars themselves, the overall future-like feeling of the set is very cool.
There are seven mini-figs included with the set: truck driver, train conductor, fuel attendant, construction worker, security officer and two passengers. Unique parts in the set include the black contoured locomotive nose (appears in the 4558-Metroliner too), 2x6x1 slope bricks, 2x2x2 spring loaded elements, minifig suitcases, and money and letter/postal tiles. All 2x2x2 box lids (for fuel, mail, etc. containers) are preprinted and I'd like to add that the set comes with an excellent amount of basic 1x2 and 1x1 bricks in yellow and black for alternate constructions.
There are some clever alternate models' pictures in the last few pages of the instructions, including a great looking steam train locomotive to prove that you CAN make a conventional train out of this set! I would have loved instructions for that engine (and it isn't like we never received alternate instructions with train sets in the past). Speaking of alternates, see Brian Ward's own Blacktron train that to my knowledge was created before the release of the Lego Group's.
For the number of bricks with this set, possibilities are broad. I wasn't too crazy about the kit at first, but it has indeed grown on me.

58 readers have rated this set as 4.03 out of 5 stars.
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